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Nazareth, Pa., United States

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bloggin' on WGPA 1100 AM With Rich Grucela & Joe Brennan

State representatives Rich Grucela and Joe Brennan will be today's guests on WGPA 1100 AM between 8 and 10 AM. Rich is a seasoned veteran while Joe is a freshman. Both of these affable Democrats certainly heard the message delivered by voters in November. Voters want open and responsive government. It's a message they themselves have preached.

The house leadership? That's another story. For the first time since 1994, the state house is democratic. Yet the first piece of legislation drafted by Dem leader DeWeese is an expansion of slots into other forms of gaming. Is this what voters wanted?

I'll be asking Joe and Rich to talk about what they, and not DeWeese, hope to accomplish in the state house next year. Reforms aimed at ghost voting? Meaningful lobbyist regulation? Per diems? Campaign finance reform? Property tax reform? Expansion of the Sunshine Act?

Feel free to call in between 8 and 10AM. You can livestream, and your calls are welcome at 610-866-8074. You can even post comments or questions here and I'll read them to Rich and Joe while we're on the air.


Anonymous said...

Why don't you ask them how to get Perzel out of the speaker's office?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I believe Perzel will be out in Jan. I will certainly ask.

Anonymous said...


Cannot get to a phone but would like to know why all we ever talk about is how much revenue we can produce for the school districts but never talk about ways to run fiscally more responsibly. Here are two examples of what I woudl like to see:

1. State mandated designs on new school buildings based on the size of school needed. This would save large amounts of $ on design and development. It would also speed up the process.

2. Consolidation of school districts. If we had countywide districts it would allow us to save on efficiency (less administrative staffing) and spread out the burden on districts like Easton Area and Allentown.


Anonymous said...

In Allentown, there is one administarter for every 3 teachers.
What can be done to minimize the bureacracy in education?

DB said...

As an Allentown Voter, regionalization of our local school districts is the number one factor that will determine the health of our city and region.

As you may be aware, Allentown School District taxpayers are facing another tax hike. We currently pay one of the highest school tax rates in the valley but our students receive the least on a per capita basis.

Fiscal responsibility is not our current problem, the state funding formula is clearly broken. Any elected official who works toward real change in this are has my support.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thanks for all the comments. I was able to present them all to Rich and/or Joe during the show, and they responded on air.

Greendogdem said...

I'm going to give you a cold hard response about regionalization. IT will never happen. People who live outside the city of Allentown are not going to be willing to foot the bill for the city. They will either pressure their local school board to vote against it or simply leave the county. Very simply, regionalization is more or less bail out the city of Allentown, it will benefit no one else in the region.

Anonymous said...

Spoke to Big Mark by phone during his show on WLVR 91.3FM on Wed.

he said he have absolutely no idea whether or not Ron Angle is returning.

Heh,heh. Chuckle chuckle,'nort 'nort.

Welcome back Gacy, Jr.!

Bernie O'Hare said...

Greendog, Never say never. Pa is among the most fragmented states in the country, having over 2500 municipalities. The Brookings report warns that makes it impossible to engage in meaningful land use regulation.

Counties like Lehigh and Northampton are beginning to explore regionalization possibilities. Municipalities have started regionalizing police departments.

I don't think regionalization in school districts is a bad idea. And it's not about subsidizing the cities. The idea is to get rid of some of the administrative overhead so that teachers can teach and taxpayers are thus not overburdened with taxes.

It's an idea worth exploring.

DB said...

Green Dog, I suggest reading "Cities Without Suburbs" by David Rusk.

Stating that the only beneficiaries of regionalization are the cities is an expected first response from those who do not understand the bigger picture benefits and results of regionalization for everyone in a given metropolitan area.

Long story short, this book will show you an undeniable correlation between he economic success of areas with regional cities/governments and schools vs those without. Columbus and Cleveland are good examples of similar cities with the defining difference of regional boundaries. Which region is doing better? It is a good read!

Also, if the directive comes from the state, the cul-de-sac folk can cry all they want. If may be a difiicult chose for some in Harrisburg but that is what leadership is all about.

Greendogdem said...

I've also read through the regionalization study this is what it said

But while each of the county level options discussed here offer benefits to ASD, they are less attractive solutions in terms of Lehigh County as a whole. In fact, as our discussions and meetings in Allentown revealed, each of the three county-level options pose certain difficulties. Unlike a state-level solution (as discussed in Options 1 and 2 above) a uniform county-wide property tax levy, for instance, places the burden of resolving ASD’s revenue crisis – which is essentially a result of state-level funding problems – on Lehigh County residents. And it would require residents throughout the county to pay higher taxes, even though two-thirds of the county’s school districts are already above the statewide average property tax effort

Greendogdem said...

Merging several districts together or merging all into a single, county-wide district could help ASD by reallocating existing resources from other, currently wealthier districts in the county. It would again, however, place the burden on the backs of Lehigh Countyresidents to solve what is essentially a statewide problem. No new state resources would necessarily be brought to bear under this scenario so, unless citizens are willing to raise their own taxes, currently wealthier districts such as Parkland and Southern Lehigh would likely be asked to shift their existing resources and programs to higher need areas such as Allentown. Such reallocation is likely to be politically unpopular and difficult to execute

Greendogdem said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greendogdem said...

When i make statements I don't just make emotional remarks I usually have some reference for it. This came from

Greendogdem said...

dated March 2006

Bernie O'Hare said...

Greendog, Sorry, buddy, but the report I was referring to is the Brookings report. It's available online, and I'll get you a link to it tonight ot tomorrow. Our fragmented governance hurts Pennsylvania in the 'burbs, not just the cities.

Greendogdem said...

I'm talking specifically about the school system not the government in general. http://www.elc-pa.org/pubs/downloads/english/fun-final%20allentown%20school%20funding%20report%20March%202006.pdf

Greendogdem said...


yes your going to have to piece it together

DB said...


I am not questioning your knowledge, I am simply disagreeing with your assessment. I am very familair with the Education 2010 committee and their finding, I simply disagree with their suggested course of action as well.

The findings are built around built off one important premiss, "this is not the county (residents) fault." Any argument can be tailored to achieve a desired result by framing the argument from a given perspective.

There is complete truth to the fact that their is a state funding problem, along with other state government issues that has given us this current situation, such as infrastructure invest largely outside of cities and a failure to redefine city's annexation powers.

At the end of the day, every advantage has been given to business and the wealthy from state, and sometimes county as well, to move from the cities while the cities were chocked into oblivion. Taking advantage of these advantages does not morally remove one from their commitment to the future of their community.

Heck with all the politics, if someone in your community is good enough to bag your groceries or serve your fries than their kids are good enough to have the same quality education as your kids. Not resolving this is un-American and GOVERNMENT SANCTIONED SEGREGATION, period. What are we teaching our children!

I don't want to hear the elitist excuses. We need leadership to make it happen!

-Thanks for hearing me out greendog

DB said...

. . . Note: if there is one reason I leave this great city, this is it. but if I should decide that is what is best for my daughter you will not see me become part of the problem by moving to Parkland, I will be done with Pennsylvania.

I will not silently teach my daughter that this is an acceptable system of habitation. There are plenty of states and cities that have figured this out by now. I hope we can add ourselves to the list before I have to make some tuff decisions.

Anonymous said...

gdg, "the school system" is the "the government in general."

Anonymous said...

not gdd (above)...i meant gdd - as in green dog dem...

Bernie O'Hare said...

GreenDog, Anon & Damien, I appreciate the interesting views. Since you folks have limited your discussion of regionalization to school districts, I'll throw in my two cents, too. There is no doubt in my mind that the equities are on Damien's side. We are ALL entitled to the same quality education. Unfortunately, that is not the case. And whether we like to admit it or not, there is de facto segregation in our local school districts. A young black or Hispanic in the Allentown School District simply does not have the same opportunities as a student in nearby Salisbury or Parkland. And regionalization of school districts will actually end up saving money for everyone in the long run. I think people in the 'burbs have some of the attitudes that Greendog mentions. But as the price of fuel increases and cities become more attractive, that should change. But Damien, I don't look for a change like that anytime soon. My grandson lives in Allentown, but he goes to Catholic school. Everyone pitches in to cover the expense. A good education is worth the dough.

Greendogdem said...

Um the fuel argument in Allentown is kinda pointless since you still have to drive somewhere to buy something. I think I've been in the city of Allentown 3 times in the past 12 months

LSTresidentPIA said...

Being a graduate of a highly sought after burb school, Saucon Valley, I can tell you that there are pople who attended city schools, such as Liberty, Dieruff, and so on that are more sucessful in life after graduation than me.

I find it interesting that as people move from the cities of New York and New Jersey, how good they think our city schools are compared to where they came from. But also, the elite burb districts like SV and SL and being turned into private schools at the expense of taxpayers. People from outside the area are moving int to these once small school districts and expect them to be like private schools where their children have, do and be everything. With the increase in students, this just can't be.

I agree that eveyone should have an equal education whether you go to school in Philly, Allentown, or Parkland.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Greendog, I understand your point, but think about it. The price of fuel is going to go up. the supply is going to diminish. Those city dwelling are going to be a lot more attractive down the road. And I don't think you need to drive in Allentown at all if you live there. I'll defer to others on that.

LSTresidentPIA said...

I have wondered for a long-time whether the free public school system is sustainable as we continue to need to educate more and more children especially illegal immigrants. Perhaps it is time that those that have children in the school bear the finanical brunt of their children's education.

The public school system is over due for a major overhaul. But I also have to wonder why when it comes to the standardized tests, why the state punishes those districts that do poorly and reward those that do well. It seems that they should be used as digagnostic tool, to identify troubled schools and give then money to improve.

A truth that exsists is that many of the city schools are struggling becasue so many students do not speak English. But at the same time there is a program at Southern Lehigh at the elementary level where students are immeresed and taught in Spansih. This is a highly sought after program and there have been years where people get into fights because people get into line and camp out overnight to get signed up for this program.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LST, I think we're all on the same page. We all agree that everyone should be entitled to the same high standards of education. The devil is always in the details.

DB said...

three out of four weekends, when I park my car on a Friday I do not move it until Monday.

I can walk to many things but many things I cannot. Occasionally, I walk to Ahardts but I usually choose to drive to Giant or Wegmans. Coffee, dining and entertainment I can all walk to. Christmas shopping I had to drive for 75% of my purchases. At the end of the day, i think my community is still pretty walkable.

I don't understand why people assume there is nothing worthwhile in Allentown when because they really drive here. What is the big draw in Macungie or North Whitehall for people to drive from Allentown to? I can't think of much, does that mean these are poor miserable places that there is no hope for? of course not.

At the end of the day, most people do as much as they can, as close as possible to home, whether they drive or walk.

Anonymous said...

"A young black or Hispanic in the Allentown School District simply does not have the same opportunities as a student in nearby Salisbury or Parkland." per Mr. O'Hare.

This kind of allegation, even if it were true ( and it is ludicrous, by any objective standard ), is without merit. It is left-wing propoganda.

There are Caucasion students who have done well in the ASD and continue to do so even though they are now the minority. They make the honor rolls and go on to college, same as always.

The same is true of black and Hispanic students who take books home and make an effort.

It's the 'Rodgers' of the world who insist on lambasting public schools in the inner city. If one takes the time to determine how they are functioning, he will see they are doing 'a hell of a job'.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Mr. Moshki, The sdtatement I made is demonstrably true. Less money is spent in ASD. The students there do far worse in standardized tests. Like it or not, it is the truth.